University of Wyoming gun ban to face court challenge

Wednesday , April 25, 2018 - 1:45 PM

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — University of Wyoming officials and gun advocates are looking to the courts to resolve a dispute over university policy that prohibits people from carrying weapons on campus.

The issue came to a head during the state Republican Party convention last week when a GOP delegate who defied the weapons ban was issued a citation by the UW police chief.

UW President Laurie Nicholas is standing by the decision to cite the delegate, while gun advocates contend the university’s policy conflicts with provisions of the U.S. and Wyoming constitutions that protect the right to bear arms.

UW Police Chief Mike Samp issued a trespassing citation to Uinta County Republican delegate Lyle Williams last Friday during the party convention at the UW Conference Center in Laramie after Samp saw Williams openly carrying a firearm and asked him to leave.

Williams told the Laramie Boomerang that it was his intention to be cited because it allows him to challenge UW’s gun policy in court.

“Now we have the opportunity to adjudicate this and resolve it once and for all,” Williams said.

Other delegates were also carrying weapons but were not cited.

“I did exercise a certain amount of discretion as a peace officer in an attempt to legitimize their political statement based on Second Amendment rights, as well as getting the matter into court, while maintaining a peaceful environment for that convention,” Samp said. “I didn’t feel that there was any legitimate need to write additional citations or take additional enforcement action.”

Samp said he hopes the matter will be resolved in the courts and provide guidance on how to address similar situations in the future. Nichols told the Wyoming Tribune Eagle on Tuesday she supports Samp’s handling of the situation.

Nichols said UW is committed to upholding its weapons policy.

State Sen. Anthony Bouchard, R-Cheyenne, has sponsored several pieces of legislation to loosen gun restrictions.

He said the citation appeared to be a “power play” by Nichols to challenge the rights of gun owners.

“It’s from the social justice warrior playbook, as far as I’m concerned,” Bouchard said. “The president probably knows darn well there’s no law and thought she could usher a few folks out and get her point pushed.”

He said college campuses in Colorado and Utah allow people to carry guns and Wyoming may need an “all or none repeal (of) gun-free zones” to resolve the issue.

At the end of the day, he said people that “lawfully carry guns every day in Wyoming” aren’t the problem.

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